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The first studio release for probably the best known and the longest-lasting of the Black Legions bands (Willy Roussel's Mütiilation), this EP was also the first proper Black Legions release. Surprisingly the recording isn't typical of the Black Legions' work: it's a very clean disc of music with none of the bristly and brooding dark lo-fi production values that characterised the work of other bands in the scene, particularly the dark ambient bands like Moevot and Amaka Hahina. This is a very rock'n'roll recording with distinctive and catchy tunes, stop-start rhythms, hard-edged riffing, and robust and energetic percussion (not usually a strong asset for Mütiilation, not on his later recordings anyway). Probably the one drawback here is that the vocals are far back in the mix and clouded over with too much reverb so that the emotion and world-weariness associated with Roussel's singing are lost. Songs are not fast though they may have brief sections where the drumming approaches blast-beat speed.
"Desecrate Jesus' Name" starts impressively with a strong riff sequence before wandering up hill and down dale with various other riffs. Dominated by the sharp and clean percussion, the whole song is very tight: the guitars are light and the vocals are a faint banshee presence. Likewise, "Remembrance of my Past Battles and Times" features varied drumming and quite good riff sequences. The pace runs from near-slacker casual to brisk to hurried and the song can be quite jaunty. An ambient interlude of groaning savage animal voices leads into the last track which is fairly stodgy compared with the earlier tracks. Far off in the distance though they are, the vocals are the best thing about this track: floaty, faint and shrieky, they suggest a mind far gone in its delusions and madness.
This would be the release to start with if you don't know any of Mütiilation or the Black Legions bands' work and are coming from an old school melodic black metal background: there's enough conventional song structure here with just enough of the theatricality that Mütiilation would later be known for. This is competently performed and recorded music, far from the delirious music that Roussel would make in the mid-1990s or the more militant and faster work with machine-gun percussion of later years.
Mütiilation have progressed through a plethora of musical styles throughout their career. Before it came to an end in 2009, Meyhna’ch had recorded primitively, below-primitively and sub-sub-sub-lo-fi. Mütiilation have tapped into (and – some believe – actually created) the key components of depressive black metal; they've released, as a one-man project, music that’s been rendered unlistenable by the use of shitty drum machines and poor recording techniques. “Hail Satanas…” reigns as king at the top of the mountain of releases this French band have spawned.
In an innovative and refreshing take on the black metal sound, Mütiilation present three original compositions on this EP, building upon songs and ideas from the “Ceremony…” demo. Willy and crew also employ a very clean production, a shocker to anyone who first hears any of the early full-lengths and is then introduced to this. With a bass-heavy background to compliment and add vigour to the music, overdriven guitars lie very neatly in each ear, whilst very, very clean, varied drums pound beneath. Meyhna’ch’s vocals are on top form too; raspy, violent, and incredibly annunciated throughout.
Musically, this EP presents some odd compositional ideas. If this EP were released later on in their career, after their lo-fi efforts had been received well, I’d say the band were taking a huge risk (albeit one that paid off). However, this was their first studio release; Mütiilation didn’t care about risks or audience reactions, only spreading hateful music to their fellow French musicians (as confirmed by several early interviews with Mr. Roussell himself). Thankfully he achieves his goals: that the three tracks here are brilliant compositions seems to be a nice feature, though not the main one, at least from Meyhna’ch’s perspective.
“Desecrate Jesus’ Name” commences with an obscure scale run that soon explodes into a furious yet depressive assault on the listener, with brilliant use of minor-interval to tritone variation. However, this soon dies out and we encounter a harsh, tremolo picked passage under which a death metal beat lies. The song is fast paced and catchy, but not particularly black metal. That said, Meyhna’ch’s vocals bring the song back towards the “kvlt” path, with harsh rasps that shriek true anguish and then fade into the distance. They sound like they've been recorded in a cave, but that this recording technique is a positive attribute. The song breaks down into a simple melancholic passage before returning to the main riff and finally dying.
“Remembrance” continues in this vein, with aggressive yet near-depressive riffs being coupled with death metal beats and harsh shrieks and a thick wall of bass. There’s a lot of atonal progression that’s cleverly moulded and carved into a saddening sound. For the musicians reading this: there’s a lot of use of tritones followed by two fret minor chords (like a fifth, but with the higher note raised a tone). It works incredibly well, and has been emulated by many depressive black metal bands ever since. Finally, the album closes with “Black Wind of War”, a track that sees the tortured vocals shriek a vocal passage in the left ear, followed by the next passage in the right ear. This track focusses less on the depressive and more on the aggressive, with an interesting use of blast beats and short guttural passages.
Overall, a really good listen. Although it’s significantly different from anything else Mütiilation have ever done, it’s still one to be added to the record collection.
After releasing a couple of poorly-produced demos, Mütiilation returned in 1994 with their first 7" E.P. Independently released, Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions featured the best sound that the band had achieved to that point, or possibly ever. Not only was the production much clearer than before, but it seemed that the band members had become more confident in their abilities and the playing was much more competent as well, though retaining the raw feeling from before.
Shortly after discovering Mütiilation, through the Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul release, I managed to get my hands on all of the previous material as well. Luckily, I had a connection that enabled me to obtain original copies of the cassette demos and the 7" in question. Outside of the obvious impression that songs like "Suffer the Gestalt" had on me, the material presented on this E.P. quickly grabbed my attention.
"Desecrate Jesus Name" begins with a memorable riff that is soon accompanied by drums and a tormented scream. Immediately, one recording flaw is apparent as the drums are a bit too high in the mix. However, this is not too difficult to ignore. The riffs are mostly thrash-inspired, yet still possessing a rather sombre feeling. The vocals add to this, as well. One can also detect some influence from Bathory and Burzum, though it is not incredibly overpowering.
The next song is "Remembrance of My Past Battles and Times" which contains a mixture of the sorrowful thrash riffs, as well as the typical tremolo-picked melodies that defined much of the Second Wave of Black Metal. This is raw and primitive, yet creates more of a depressing atmosphere than anything truly evil or hellish.
"Black Wind of War" may be one of the most recognizable tunes ever created by this band. The song begins with another mid-paced thrash riff, with vocals of pure howling misery. Meyhna'ch was certainly losing what little sanity he possessed, by this point. As the song progresses, tremolo riffs and blasting drums are introduced, but this is definitely not where the song shines. The slower parts are where the band is most able to create the atmosphere of despair and hopelessness that characterized so many of their works, and this is evident here. As the E.P. reaches its conclusion, nothing is left but a woeful melody being carried on the winds of desolation.
Mütiilation's career can be split into two parts, with the first consisting of the material up through Remains..., This is the one that really defines the band for me, and Hail Satanas We Are the Black Legions is an integral part of this era, and is a strong representation of what they were trying to achieve. While most newer fans are more aware of the later output, you should seek out the early stuff to get a better idea of what this band was all about.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
If you know Mutiilation then you might expect that efforts during Willy's involvement in the LLN would be even more atrociously produced than the future full lengths. The LLN was known for being one of the black metal circles with the worst production values ever (made the Norwegians look clean). That is why it is surprising at how well this album is produced, for both LLN and later Mutiilation standards. What we have here is not indiscernible noises and sloppy riffing and drumming, but rather a solid black metal album. It doesn't do much to further the genre, but it did establish Mutiilation as a serious and solid black metal act. Later efforts would prove to be more polarizing, with either great recognition of albums or little respect for the music.
The music here is not strictly the kind of black metal you expect from Mutiilation. The first song along already includes a less depressive and slow sound than later albums. "Desecrate Jesus' Name" focuses around a very nice headbanging riff that sounds very tight. The drums are programmed (this probably helped with getting a tighter sound) and have extremely good production values for an LLN release. Guitars are a bit quiet (which I personally like) and the bass can also be heard well. Together the instruments sound very synchronized and don't get in the way of one another. The vocals here also show promise, with a more pained kind groan rather than the high shrieks of the Remains... album. In all the song works very nicely on all fronts working mainly with power chords and midtempo tremolo riffs will showing some good tempo variation.
The next song, "Remembrance of my past battles..." also features some good guitar work, as well as a nice solid drum basis. The guitar shows some creative melodic ideas and doesn't play in the predictable style that most black metal does, going out of key (in a good way) to make riffs less predictable. Same thing goes for "Black Wind of War", there is some very nice palm muted power chord riffing that lends the album a but of an old school black/thrash sound. In fact the album in whole sounds a bit like old Bathory in a mid tempo speed. Clocking in at under 15 minutes it's also very easy to digest and doesn't bore the listener with repetition.
The shortcoming of the album is the lack of real creativity though. The songs remain in a familiar verse chorus structure, and generally work with a guitar riff based on power chords or tremolo picking, and although executed well, the instruments usually center around what the guitar does, with drums and bass adding little interesting fills or variations. Vocals are also a little too average, they somehow sound too distant to communicate the hate that is evident in many of the songs. They lack the necessary power to really make the listener identify with the music. That being said they are better than the vocals on many other Mutiilation releases. It's almost a pity that the album isn't longer because it shows promise, and perhaps, if Willy had developed more towards an old school late 80s sound on future albums, later albums would be much better.
In general this is a nice little piece of old school black metal with good production and a very acceptable overall sound. The album manages to be a bit above average with some excellent riffs, especially on "Desecrate Jesus' Name", but later songs show too little originality to make this a must have album. If you like older stuff like Bathory, Tormentor and Venom, which has a less aggressive guitar sound but still an overall evil feel then I recommend you check this release out.
Desecrate Jesus' Name
I discovered this little EP about a year ago; back then I wasn’t aware of any LLN releases but all the rumors and myths got me interested in the material of their leader – Mütiilation.
While this is indeed an enjoyable release, there is no reason for overrating it. The EP contains three tracks of fairly raw and dirty black metal (not quite as gritty as most of the other LLN releases) and will satisfy most second-wave listeners, but they ought to find better releases in the vast pool of the black metal scene – if it wasn’t for the first track on “Hail Sathanas”.
“Desecrate Jesus Name” has an awesome, quite melodic and very memorable main riff going for it – it almost sounds like Mercyful Fate took a stint into Mütiilation’s rehersal room back in 1994. Unfortunately, the track gets torn apart by a rather shitty middlebreak, consisting of a boring and unoriginal tremolo-powerchord riff, reminding of a second rate Darkthrone rip-off.
The other tracks are less memorable and have more of the aforementioned second-rate riffs, but are still solid in their aggressive delivery. The vocals are well done, ranging from tortured yells to nasal screams; both are delivered in a convincing manner.
There is little left to say for this demo; in conclusion it can be said that this by no means a quintessential release (like many people seem to hail it as) but an enjoyable slab of second-wave black metal.
Especially recommended to fans of the LLN, but I’m sure most of then will know this EP already.
What we have here is some simple yet very effective black metal. The harsh, abrasive nature of the more well known Vampires of Black Imperial Blood and Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul is absent on this release. The riffs aren't exactly crystal clear but you can still make them out without any effort. Surprisingly enough the production is actually pretty good.
Now, onto the music itself. Mid-paced tempos fueled by simple drums carry plodding riffs around a central theme creating a dark aesthetic that is very unique in comparison to the upcoming Mutiilation albums. The minimalistic approach to songwriting work perfectly here, a culmination of majestic screams and dark riffs took me, the listener, to a place of darkness and oddly enough, serenity. The music is very comforting in a way, especially the intro on Desecrate Jesus Name.
All in all this is an essential release for Mutiilation fans and fans of true black metal in general. I'd say the only real drawback is one riff that is very unoriginal on Desecrate Jesus name, and it's not even very bad.
I never got this in vinvl format but recently got hold of the cd re-release format. It seems Meyhna'ch is upset about bootlegs of this being sold out there. He points that out in his statement in the booklet. I'm glad he decided to re-release on cd format since I don't use vinyl records and it's easier to play in the house and car. This EP is just a mere 3 tracks but in a way it signifies more than just that. The music is just wonderful, in a way it's an elixir for an LLN fan like myself. After having to put up with some questionable material of late from Meyhna'ch (Hell Militia, Malicious Secrets, last 2 Mutiilation albums) this EP reminds me why I love this band so much. What Meyhna'ch had was an ear for a catchy, melodic, yet demented tune.
Something that immediately took me by surprise was the production. It's better and clearer (not as raw) than 'Remains...' and 'Vampires...' but not synthetic sounding like the last two albums. It's also clear that there's a real drummer and it sounds like he has a band backing him up. I cannot emphasize enough how much Mutiilation benefitted from having other members to play instruments, it gives it a more powerful and effective sound. This is something that Meyhna'ch has sadly drifted away from in the last 6-7 years. Whether or not there was conflict with past members is something that could've been fixed with session musicians. He easily could have written up the guitar, bass and drum tracks and have "sessionists" play out those tracks for a thicker and heavier sound.
Just 3 tracks, but the quality of this music outweighs the fact that it's clocks in at under 15 minutes. It's a real headbanger and very well thought out. In a way it leaves you wanting more This EP was (at least for me) the beginning of a French Black Metal revolution that is burning brighter than ever right now. It might be the first official LLN release and soon Vlad Tepes, Torgeist, Belketre, Moevot, etc. released their material to the world forever changing the face of black metal. Mutiilation to me, paved the way for black metal in France, it set the blueprint for the band's career but in many ways, it set the path for other bands to follow as well. And lastly, to quote the creator himself, "Support Mutiilation, avoid the bootlegs!"
So this is Mutiilation just previous to the release of Vampires of Black Imperial Blood. On here we're talking the most pro recording quality I've ever heard for the LLN back in the day, everything is clear and clean and very seperated. How they did this who knows, maybe this was the only thing they recorded in a studio back in the day.
This is dark music, it is a bit more traditional metal then other Mutiilation though. I can hear a strong influence of Varathron and other Greek bands in some sections, before it moves to its true spirit of French darkness and bleakness.
The vocals are yet again different. Less extreme then other Mutiilation demos, they are closer to old school BM like Venom and less nuts then "Evil" or something. Despite this and the more traditional black metal style of the riffs, this EP holds up well as a representation of a side of the LLN, a very different side then anything else done by them.
So if you want to hear a strange side of Mutiilation check this short EP out, it is strange for sure, but also very good and well recorded, I suggest checking it out.
The most immediately notable aspect of this EP is how well recorded it is. Anyone who has even the slightest experience of LLN will know that professional sounding recordings were not exactly a priority of theirs, but this does sound almost professional. All the instruments can be heard clearly and separately, which leads to a very different style than is expected from Mütiilation; hence this contains none of the murky, fetid atmosphere found on the early full-lengths.
What we do get is three songs that are almost more similar in style to the ‘Rites Through The Twilight Of Hell’ demo than, say, ‘Vampires…’ The riffing is incredibly simple, each song being built around a single main riff. This main riff is exactly the same palm-muted rhythm in each of the songs, with only the actual chord sequence differing between songs. Occasionally there is a short blasting section accompanied by tremolo picked chords, but it’s mostly mid-paced, with simple, punchy drum beats supporting the guitar. The chord patterns are nothing special, and there’s nothing about the guitars that will enchant you in the way that Mütiilation later managed, but the sheer simplicity and naivety of the music is really quite enjoyable. This is to ‘Vampires…’ what ‘Deathcrush’ is to ‘De Mysteriis…’ The vocals are also slightly unusual for Mütiilation, being high-pitched screams rather than the growling and majestic shrieking that we are used to. It suits this EP, though, and it’s an impressive demonstration of Meyhna’ch’s vocal range.
It’s hard to recommend buying this in its original form, because any copies that are still left will undoubtedly sell for ridiculous amounts of money. For musical value alone, it isn’t worth much, comprising just three songs that, although fairly enjoyable, all sound pretty much the same. As a piece of history, though, this release is definitely important, and it’s very interesting to follow the progress that Mütiilation made between their first demo and their first album. It’s certainly worth getting this as a bootleg copy, or through a tape trade, but unless you don’t mind spending large sums of money on something that is only worth the price of a normal CD, I can’t recommend tracking down an original copy.